Debaters succeed at Blair thanks to preparation

Nitya Kumar
managing editor

The debate team competed at Blair on Oct. 24 from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.. This was a county competition, and nearly 15 schools participated, including Richard Montgomery, Blair and Churchill.

The competition was arranged in the style of public forum. This style entails debate in teams of two, where individuals give short speeches arguing a side of a resolution, or the main statement which one side affirms and the other side negates, interspersed with crossfire sections, or questions and answers between opposed debaters. This school’s team sent 18 pairs of students to the competition.

Junior member Eshaan Moorjani participated. “The resolution was ‘The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.’ The issue is maritime law, and the treaty covered ocean drilling rights and maritime conflict procedures. It was a very different resolution than what we were used to because most cover a lot broader and more relevant topics. Each team prepares to debate for both sides, but for us we debated on the pro side for the entire competition. We used a lot of resources that were online because there was a bunch of literature available online. We won both of our rounds and Wootton as a whole won 75 percent of their rounds,” Moorjani said.

The team has a high success rate because the meetings and outside-of school practices help prepare the students thoroughly. “At meetings we prepare for competitions with captain led topic analyses, interactive debate games, speaking exercises and mock debates. Every team has to write two cases — a pro and a con — for competitions and they serve as the basis for their argumentation at competitions. Outside of meetings, the captains and veteran debaters host case writing and research workshops to help all members write cases for the debates,” senior captain Ragini Balachandran said.

Balachandran, who, with her partner seior Keerat Singh, is undefeated so far in Montgomery County with a season record of 4-0, has tips on how to be successful in competitions. For example, according to Balachandran, writing a debate case is similar to writing a synthesis essay in AP English Language, where the sources converse and the analysis is to convey why the sources are important to the case. “My partner and I used a combination of statistical data and logical analysis to convey our points,” Balachandran said.

Junior captain Meghana Kotraiah advocates membership in the debate team due to its positive impact on her. “Students should most definitely join the team. We would love to have more students join. Debate is an activity that has forced me to build my character in leadership, public speaking, research, my awareness of global issues and how I carry myself. It can have a truly positive impact on who you are,” Kotraiah said.